Apology accepted for pastor falsely accused of indecent exposure
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Bishop Theodore Myers says it was one of the most difficult times of his life. His name was in the paper and on the news -- not celebrating his lifetime in ministry, but charging him with violating a child.
"The pain of going through that, knowing that I've spent all my life developing children, working with young people and spending time with developing my own and to have someone come in to say something like that, it just actually took something out of me," said Myers.
The charges thrown against Myers were committing a lewd act upon a child and indecent exposure. Bishop Myers trusted the investigation would clear his name, but instead he got the opposite.
"It went to the grand jury and the grand jury statement came back and said they find justification, that just blew me away," said Myers. "I was on my way to Columbia when my attorney called me and told me about it and I just had to stop and pull off the side of the highway, it was just too devastating."
With no evidence, the case moved forward. The bishop's reputation was tarnished by the accusations and doubts.
"That's one of the most devastating things that can happen to you, to have someone say something like that. That smears you for life," said Myers.
It took four years for the charges to finally be dropped. The bishop was convinced it would be impossible to undo the damage, but then he says something miraculous happened.
"I apologized and extended my hand and my heart," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
Lott, the man in charge of the department that tried to make the case against Bishop Myers, admitted he never should have been charged or arrested.
"It drug on for four years and to me, that's the tragedy is the fact that Bishop Myers had this over his head for four years," said Lott.
Sheriff Lott felt so strongly, he wrote a public letter offering the bishop an apology and his personal "assistance in repairing the reputation and emotional damage he and his family experienced."
The letter goes to say "no evidence was found" and admits "political, not legal, concerns prevented a timely dismissal" of the case.
"This, what the sheriff has done, is to me one of the sweetest things that could show me who God is, because he didn't have to do this," said Myers. "He did it because the spirit of God worked to say this is the right thing to do."
Many people would have sued, but not Myers.
"I figured it wouldn't do me any good to sue, because if I did, it would be forcing people to say something good for me," said Myers. "Money could not repair what had been done, so I said ok, then I trusted God for this time, let me trust Him on."
Lott was impressed with Myers.
"Those four years, I think showed a lot of people, including myself, just what a man of Christ he is," said Lott.
That's all the bishop really wanted people to know.
"In our society, where the Internet plays such a tremendous part, you Google me and that's what's going to come up and that's one of the reasons why I'm so happy that Sheriff Lott is sitting here to do this today because when you Google me now, at least you'll have the other side of the story," said Myers.
In addition to writing the public letter of apology, Sheriff Lott also visited Bishop Myers church to make a personal apology. Lott says he knows he may face some criticism, but "sometimes you just have to do the right thing, and this is one of those times."
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